Harvard student submits a hip-hop album as his final dissertation

Per Harvard's official Instagram account, Shaw's rap thesis, titled "Liminal Minds", combines elements of Middle English poetry with issues of racial identity in America.

He got an A for his final thesis. "Although we're no longer enslaved, there's still the effects of slavery in society and on our consciousness", Shaw said.

The Ivy League student will be graduating with honors after submitting a 10-track rap album as his final thesis. I heard a quote that black people in America are caught between freedom and slavery.

Obasi Shaw poses outside the gates of Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday, May 18, 2017.

Harvard undergraduates aren't obligated to submit senior theses, but most departments require it to graduate with honors.

You can see how he mixes up these two worlds in his opening song, "Declaration of Independence" which covers police violence with old English influences in his style: 'A nation due for inspection, this is the audit, herein - lies the fear in the eyes of our departed dearly - cold bodies facing.22, man in blue'.

"Liminal Minds" also alludes to the Black Lives Matter movement, former President Barack Obama and segregation and slavery.

He started exploring secular artists like Chance the Rapper and Kendrick Lamar only a couple years ago and was inspired by the artists' approach to race, religion, and black identity.

The complete album and its lyrics are available for free online. "I didn't think they would respect rap as an art form enough for me to do it".

Mr Shaw said: "Some people don't consider rap a high art form, but poetry and rap are very similar".

But before anyone can point out that Obasi's thesis is not going to help him once he looks for a job, it should be pointed out that he has already secured a job with Google, as a software engineer once he graduates. As for rap, he'll keep it as a treasured hobby.

"I'm still not satisfied with the quality of the production just yet, but I'm constantly learning and growing", Shaw said.

  • Zachary Reyes